3 Ways Strong Relationships Can Positively Affect Supply Chain Management
Problems with global supply chains were supposed to be getting better by now. Instead, experts say they are getting worse. Supply chain disruptions are affecting everything from automotive manufacturing and new home construction to groceries and gas prices. At this point, these issues are expected to last until at least the middle of 2023.
So, how can you do the best with what you have?
Relationships are key when it comes to situations like this. We’re not talking about your friend in the purchasing department pulling a few strings to get your order fulfilled quicker. While that kind of relationship can help in some instances, right now, that widget you need is sitting on a container in the middle of the ocean, and 20 other people are asking for that same favor from your “friend.”
We are talking about long-term relationships that help in many other ways. Here are three ways strong relationships can positively affect supply chain management.
1. Look for Solutions, Not Excuses
The “easy” answer in today’s business environment is to say, “You’re just going to have to wait.” Anyone in manufacturing knows that sourcing parts is difficult right now; and they are used to hearing this answer.
A true partner–a long-term relationship–however, looks past the typical excuses and starts exploring possible solutions. They approach every project with a unique perspective and a goal to solve a problem. They take the time to get creative, which leads us to another way strong relationships can help positively affect supply chain management.
2. Access to Trusted Brokers
When an electronics manufacturing company has been in business for a long time, not only does it bring to the table years of experience, but also long-term relationships with suppliers. And, if they are really good, they will have relationships with more than one or two suppliers; they will have connections with non-traditional suppliers and alternative options to get creative in order to solve your problems.
This also means they can separate the “shady” ones from the trustworthy ones. Especially in an environment where parts are so scarce and the internet offers anyone the opportunity to set up a website, it is essential that suppliers are vetted and trusted. It is important to know reputable suppliers who can fill gaps due to supply chain constraints.
3. Flexibility Is Key
At the end of the day, flexibility is key in today’s manufacturing landscape. This is what separates the good from the great PCBA manufacturing companies. Sometimes, your Bill of Materials (BOM) may call for a certain part that is simply not available at the moment, and may not be available for another six months. If your project cannot wait, that’s when a great partner is able to design and engineer work arounds to these challenges.
When you have a strong relationship with your contract manufacturer–and they have solid relationships with their partners and suppliers–everyone can be open and honest about the reality of the situation and focus on finding a solution.
Trust, Creativity, and Flexibility.
Good relationships are always important; and, at a time like this, they are even more valuable. While nothing is guaranteed, long-term relationships help in many ways.
If you don’t have a strong relationship with your PCB assembly company, it may be time to rethink your priorities. And, if you don’t know where they are sourcing their parts from or what kind of relationships they have with their suppliers, you should also ask those questions.
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